Winter Youth Retreat Recap

During the weekend of Jan. 16, 17; approximately thirty Middle & Senior High youth gathered for our annual EHUMC Winter Youth Retreat.  This awesome event was well organized by Co-Chairs Gretchen Robinson, Shaini Carney, and Carol Lehn.  Karissa Heckens and Lindsey Roberg coordinated two of our service projects for the weekend and they were fantastic!  The youth spent time getting acquainted thru meals and games; applying the message through devotion time, small group sharing, and service projects; and praising and worshiping God.   A theme of “God’s Not Dead” echoed throughout the church.  The song “God’s Not Dead” led off worship, and the entertainment Friday night was the movie of the same title.


Outstanding worship services were held on Friday and Saturday evening at 7 pm.  Members of the congregation attended, as well.  Both evenings, worship was led by our fantastic EHUMC Youth Praise Team!   Many thanks to Brett Heckens, our Youth Praise Team Director for organizing the music.  Members of the EHUMC Youth Praise Team include:  Jordyn Ritnour (vocals, drums); Karissa Heckens (vocals, piano); Jason Meyer (tambourine and vocals); Haydn Muir (vocals); Kaleb Heckens (vocals); Ellie Beeson (vocals); Lindsey Roberg (vocals); and Bailey Klanderud (vocals).  Nick Kaufmann, a long time friend of EHUMC and Director of the Christian Center in Columbus, NE, played guitar, provided vocals, and helped lead events throughout the weekend.


Lynne Henneghan, from Next Step Ministries, was our youth retreat guest speaker again this year.  Lynne is an outstanding young lady, an excellent speaker, and her messages were clear and relevant.  Lynne has a love for God that resonates in everything she does.  Lynne spoke about the importance of priorities and intentionality of maintaining our relationship with Christ, using the following verses as reference.  

So teach us to number our days, that we may present to You a heart of wisdom.  Psalm 90:12 

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.      Matthew 6:21

The phrase “number our days” expresses the thought of putting in order, arranging the use of, or prioritizing time.  By treasurers, He means the most important things in your life should be things pertaining to the kingdom of God rather than pursuit of worldly pleasures.

Service Projects

Saturday morning and afternoon of the youth retreat was spent working with the community on various service projects, mission work, and small group time.  Youth members Karissa Heckens and Lindsey Roberg organized the enlightening service projects at Heartland Hope Mission, Marquis Place of Elkhorn, and Youth Emergency Services.  Chaperone Randy Bruner said how inspiring it was to see the finesse of the youth during the mission work.  He said, “As a chaperone you think we’re here to teach you, but really we are learning from you.”

The youth and chaperones spent time talking about the many ‘God Sightings’ they had throughout the weekend.  Some of these included hugs from the people they helped, the food pantry employees’ vigor and perseverance in serving others, plastic grocery bags being available for clothing donations, a violin, Pastor Dodji’s ministry and uplifting manner in working with clients, youth supporting each other, and for Jenny Louis and her service to the youth and community of Elkhorn Hills United Methodist Church.

The service projects and mission work experienced during the youth retreat is described below.

Heartland Hope Mission

Heartland Hope is a faith-based charitable organization founded to put love in action by providing food, clothing, hygiene items, and household items to the working poor in the Omaha Metropolitan area.  This mission serves over 35,000 people each year.  Thirty percent of the people they serve are below the poverty line.  Our youth helped people shop for food and clothing, carried out food, organized the shelves, assisted the recordkeepers, and interacted with the people.  “It was a wonderful opportunity to interact with people and to practice my Spanish,” said chaperone Gretchen Robinson.

Marquis Place of Elkhorn

Marquis Place, is an Assisted Living and Memory Care service in Elkhorn, Nebraska.  Marquis Place staff provide everything from medication management to administration and tailors care plans to every individual.  Their goal is to enrich the lives of residents by providing an environment that is physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally stimulating.  Our youth interacted with the residents by playing the card game UNO, playing balloon volleyball, and singing fun songs.  Youth Jordyn Ritnour said that “seeing the joy in their faces by experiencing life” was one of her God sightings of the weekend.

Youth Emergency Services

Youth Emergency Services (YES) exists to serve homeless and at-risk youth by providing critically-needed resources which empower them to become self-sufficient.  Homeless and at-risk youth often lack positive adult interaction and are hesitant to ask for help because of this. YES works to become a positive influence in their lives and helps guide them toward the road to success and self-sufficiency.  After meeting their immediate needs for food, shelter, clothing and safety, YES creates a support system which helps them flourish.  Our youth made tie blankets out of fleece for YES.  Mary Fraser Meints, Executive Director of Youth Emergency Services, was in attendance Saturday evening to accept the gift of three large bags stacked with fleece blankets for YES youth.  Fraser Meints said she appreciated the gift and that the fleece blankets are “comforting and nice to have.”

By all accounts, it was a wonderful weekend. Check out our photo gallery.



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